The Simple but Powerful Act of Smiling

UPDATED: March 24, 2020
PUBLISHED: March 22, 2016
The Simple but Powerful Act of Smiling

Dr. C. Ward Crampton was a physician, a civil leader and an active advocate for physical fitness, advising on longevity and practicing what he preached: “Don’t allow yourself to stagnate. Keep active. Keep interested.”

Related: Food, Sleep, Exercise: Why You Seriously Need All 3 to Be Successful

That was way back in the first half of the 20th century. Back then, he used to prescribe what he called his “miracle exercise.” It does not require special clothing or equipment. You don’t have to get down on the floor or go through sets of movements that will leave you breathless. You can stand up or sit down. It works well if you do it in front of a mirror, or better still, with someone.

Here it is, Dr. Crampton’s miracle exercise:

  • Raise the corners of your mouth an inch, take a deep breath, and hold it for 10 seconds.
  • You are smiling. If you have people watching you, they’ll probably start smiling, too.
  • Now release your breath in short exhalations. You’re now laughing. Unless those other people are curmudgeons, they’ll undoubtedly start laughing, too.

The effect? A general feeling of well-being. It triggers happy emotions within you and makes the people with you feel better, too.

Related: The Science of a Smile

Never underestimate the value of a smile; smiling is the universal language, and it should be standard equipment for all people. You shouldn’t leave for the day without a smile—and be sure to take it home with you.

Dale Carnegie, the master of making friends, wrote a poem, “The Value of a Smile.” Carry this with you as a reminder of the simple but powerful act of smiling. 

“It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone ’til it is given away. And if in the hurly-burly bustle of today’s business world, some of the people you meet should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?

For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give.”

Related: 10 Simple Steps to a Happier You

Harvey Mackay is a businessman and columnist. Mackay is perhaps best known as the author of five business bestsellers, including Swim With the Sharks, Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt and Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty.